Learn a New Skill - Before You Leave the Military | Thomas Nelson Community College

Learn a New Skill - Before You Leave the Military

Leaving the military in the near future? Transitioning service members can acquire an in-demand skill before they hang up their uniforms, under a new partnership between Thomas Nelson Community College, the U.S. Army, Newport News Shipbuilding and the Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Board and Virginia Career Works - Greater Peninsula Region Approved for participants in the Army Career Skills Program (CSP) and the Skillbridge Initiatives for Navy and Air Force personnel.

Service members who are leaving the military can acquire an in-demand skill before they transition to civilian life, under a new partnership between Thomas Nelson Community College, the U.S. Army, Newport News Shipbuilding and the Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Board and Virginia Career Works - Greater Peninsula Region.

A training program for marine welders was recently approved by the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCON), the final step before activation and implementation.  The initiative is part of the Army Career Skills Program or CSP, designed to equip transitioning soldiers with skills that lead to civilian careers.  Launched in 2016, CSP now includes dozens of training programs on Army installations across America.  The welding course is only the second CSP offering at Fort Eustis.  This training is also open to military members leaving other branches of the military, through the Navy and Air Force Skillbridge programs.

The welding program prepares transitioning military members for new careers as marine welders at Newport News Shipbuilding and other employers.  After receiving approval from their chain of command, service members will complete a three-week course in Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) at Thomas Nelson, during their last six months on active duty.  For most participants, the cost of the course will be covered by a combination of private scholarships, funding from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program—administered by Greater Peninsula Workforce Board —and grants from the FastForward Virginia initiative, which pays for workers to learn skills needed in the state economy. 

As a part of the application and training process, service members will also complete an employment screening for Newport News Shipbuilding.  The screening includes an interview, background check, hair follicle drug screening, medical exam and physical agility test.  Participants who complete the welding training, demonstrate initial proficiency as welders and earn their SMAW credential will receive a conditional offer of employment for the shipyard, Pounder said, with starting pay at $19.36 an hour, full benefits, and tremendous career potential.  New hires will receive additional training at the shipyard’s welding school before starting work in the yard.

The first CSP welding class is scheduled for early 2019.  Transitioning service member who are interested in the program should begin preparing now, by taking the following steps: 

  • Applying for/being approved for CSP by their chain of command
  • Attending an information session on the program at Fort Eustis Education Center or Virginia CareerWorks Veterans Center, located at 821
  • Completing an application for employment with Newport News Shipbuilding
  • Attending counseling sessions at Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Board and Virginia Career Works - Greater Peninsula Region, and applying for WIOA funding
  • Submitting an admission application for Thomas Nelson Community College and enrolling in SMAW course
  • Applying for FastForward Virginia grant funding through TNCC’s Workforce Development Division
  • Completing background, medical, drug and physical screening required by Newport News Shipbuilding

Information sessions on the program will be held at Fort Eustis and the Virginia CareerWorks Veterans Center in Norfolk during December and January.  Consult our calendar for dates/times.